Coconut – progressing on responsible sourcing
Coconut as a raw material
AAK has been sourcing coconuts from India and Sri
Lanka since the 1930s. Nowadays, Indonesia, the
Philippines, and India are the three biggest coconut
producers with 70 percent of the global production. We
source our coconut oil from the Philippines, Indonesia
and partly from India.
Coconuts are classified into two types based on the
stature of the trees: tall palms and dwarf palms.
Coconuts are harvested in bunches every 45–60
days. Coconut oil is made from the dried meat of the
Coconut trees are often found along the shorelines
of the tropics since they can tolerate saline and sandy
soils, while other plants do not thrive under these
conditions. This not only means that coconuts form an
important source of income growing on soil with limited
fertility, but also that they take on a huge importance in
protecting the sandy shorelines from erosion from the
sea with their elaborate root system.
Coconut-growing countries in Asia-Pacific rely on the
sale of coconut products as export income. The majority
of coconuts are produced by smallholder farmers.
Responsible sourcing of coconut oil
In 2018, AAK has identified coconut oil as one of the
key raw materials for responsible sourcing together
with shea and palm oil. For coconut oil the major risks
in the supply chains still had to be identified and no
industry-wide sustainability standard exists. Therefore,
AAK has teamed up with Proforest to conduct a risk
assessment for our coconut supply chains.
Key findings of the coconut risk assessment:
1) Due to coastal growing areas, different islands and numerous middlemen involved, we concluded that
traceability is the first concern when it comes to coconut supply chains. In AAK we do not see traceability
as an achievement itself, but as a tool to understand the supply base and the different risks and issues
related to it.
2) Furthermore, we found that coconut farmers are often poor and copra does not generate good prices for
3) Lastly, we learned that about 90 percent of the coconut trees worldwide are reaching the end of their
productive life cycle. Farmers are unlikely to invest in their coconut trees because they are not perceived
as high-income crops. Available resources are rather invested elsewhere. In AAK we see the rejuvenation
of trees as a collective challenge for the global coconut industry and we need to act now.